Bioenergy in the European Commission’s proposal for a post-2020 Renewable Energy Directive

Logging rates increasing drastically in Germany as demand for bioenergy grows. Photo:

Logging rates increasing drastically in Germany as demand for bioenergy grows. Photo:

Bioenergy in the European Commission’s proposed post-202 EU Renewable Energy Directive: An analysis of proposals and impacts

A briefing by Biofuelwatch


The European Commission’s proposals for a new, post-2020 Renewable Energy Directive (RED) fail to address the serious negative impacts of large-scale biofuel and wood-based bioenergy expansion which has been underway since the current RED came into force in 2010.  Instead of ending incentives for biofuels, the proposed new RED allows for a 40% greater use of food-based biofuels such as palm and soybean oil in 2021, and a still significant use of them by 2030.  It seeks to boost the use of advanced biofuels for which the technologies to produce them commercially have not so far been developed.  And it threatens to further boost the expansion of wood-based bioenergy.

The Commission proposes to extend the principle of sustainability and greenhouse gas standards, which have applied to liquid biofuels since 2010, to wood-based bioenergy, as well as other solid biomass and biogas (albeit with different standards in the case of wood-based bioenergy).  However, no evidence exists to show that the biofuel standards have been in any way effective.  Not only are the existing biofuel standards and the proposed wood-based bioenergy standards extremely weak and reliant on flawed methods for calculating greenhouse gas emissions from bioenergy, but there is no proposal for any credible, independent verification and auditing system.  Furthermore, standards cannot address indirect impacts or make fundamentally unsustainable consumption levels sustainable.

Biofuelwatch supports the call, set out in a declaration signed by120 civil society organisations in early 2016, to remove bioenergy from the scope of the RED, to ensure that only genuinely renewable and low-carbon forms of energy are support, and to initiate meaningful economic and social changes to reduce the EU’s excessive and wasteful consumption of energy and other resources.